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First Lady Jill Biden’s Africa trip focuses on women, youth and the food crisis

First Lady Jill Biden’s Africa trip focuses on women, youth and the food crisis

WASHINGTON — First Lady Jill Biden will travel to Namibia and Kenya this week, part of the Biden administration’s efforts to strengthen ties in sub-Saharan Africa and regain confidence amid China’s growing influence in the region.

Later trips by President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris are also in the works.

In Namibia, the first lady will focus on the role of young people in strengthening democracies, according to a senior administration official, who anticipated the trip on condition of anonymity. She is the highest-ranking US official to visit the country since Vice President Al Gore’s brief visit in 1996, the official said.

In Kenya, Biden will draw attention to the food crisis caused by the drought and the disruption in food exports caused by the war in Ukraine.

Biden is expected to focus on women’s empowerment issues in both countries.

“This whole journey is going to be exciting and we still have a lot of work to do,” Biden told reporters before departing on Tuesday.

The trip, which runs Wednesday through Sunday, will be Biden’s sixth to Africa during her tenure in public service. She will be the first senior official to visit sub-Saharan Africa since the beginning of the Biden administration.

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During a US-Africa business forum hosted by the administration in Washington in December, the president told African leaders they would see many senior government officials “because we are dead serious and serious about this endeavor.”

He announced new investments in Africa focused on boosting trade and infrastructure, and called for the African Union to become a permanent member of the group of 20 nations that lead the world’s largest economies.

White House officials say stronger African representation is needed for “international talks” on the world economy, democracy and governance, climate, security and health.

Africa is the fastest growing and youngest region in the world.

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